Dueling Platform Policies and Free Speech Online
Twitter recently announced that it will stop paid political advertising, with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asserting that interest in political messaging should be earned, not bought. Meanwhile, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would not stop hosting political ads, saying that the platform should not be responsible for policing speech online. Will Twitter’s efforts to regulate political ads work? Might Facebook’s more “hands-off” approach lead to unintended consequences for our democracy? Which approach to regulating speech might foster free expression the most? And how do policies of private institutions shape our free speech landscape, given that the First Amendment doesn’t bind Twitter or Facebook? This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Abrams v. United States, so we also consider: Are the landmark First Amendment cases, many of which were decided decades before social media existed, still relevant in a world of ever-changing digital platforms, bots, and disinformation campaigns? Digital speech experts Ellen Goodman of Rutgers University Law School and Eugene Volokh of UCLA Law join host Jeffrey Rosen.
Some terms you should know for this week:
- Microtargetting: a marketing strategy that uses people’s data — about what they like, their demographics, and more — to segment them into small groups for content targeting on online platforms.
- Interoperability: the ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information. In this context, that means that if platforms like Facebook were required to share data with other developers, those developers could create new platforms and there would be more competition in the market.
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